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OUR HISTORY

Aroostook Aspirations Initiative was founded in 2011 by successful local businessman Ray Gauvin and his wife Sandra Gauvin, a 25-year veteran of the education profession. Our mission is to support the educational and career goals of the youth in Aroostook County, Maine, and to mobilize the future prosperity of the county. We provide scholarships as well as guidance and professional development support for high school seniors in Aroostook County’s school districts, and continue our support during their college careers. We believe in the importance of encouraging the creativity, work ethic, solid citizenship and entrepreneurship of our young people and that education is the great equalizer. With our locally-based strategic partners, Aroostook Aspirations Initiative can significantly increase access to college for young people in Aroostook County, provide an educated workforce for our industry, engender new business start-ups, and increase the local tax base – while keeping more of our youth here to raise their families, pursue their careers and create a successful future for this area.

Out-migration of our youth from Aroostook County has reached staggering proportions. The young people labor under the misconception that in order to get a quality education and find good jobs, they need to leave The County. Statistics show that students are likely to remain in the area where they receive their postgraduate education. We are offering our students an opportunity to receive top-quality education and find career opportunities right here in Aroostook, helping them stay here and become an important part of the county’s fiber.

Our target population of students is the first generation college and economically disadvantaged students. Research shows that first-generation college students are more likely than their counterparts to be less academically prepared for college; to possess less knowledge about how to apply to college and for financial assistance; and to have more difficulty adjusting to college once enrolled. They are more at risk for not completing a degree because they are more likely to delay enrollment after high school, enroll part time, or to work full time while enrolled.

Low-income high school students are less likely to attend college and therefore less liable to find employment, and more likely to receive lower wages if they become employed. While lower educational attainment is associated with higher crime rates, increasing education levels translates into higher property values and greater local sales, as well as higher property, sales and business tax revenues. Studies show that a person with a college degree earns over $1 million more in his or her lifetime than a person with a high school diploma.

Very few things in life are more promising and give us greater meaning than helping our youth reach their highest potential, be as successful as possible and live whereever they choose. Your efforts to help our county's youth to pursue their education and find ways to seek their careers within Aroostook County provides them with such an opportunity.

DANA CONNORS

PRESIDENT MAINE STATE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE